Leon Hall, a software engineer at Updater, gives Inman a glimpse inside his workspace as he talks about what he does every day, how he fell into real estate tech and the big industry problem he wants to solve.
Job title: Software engineer, Updater
Time at Updater: 20 months.
What he does: I work as a software engineer at Updater, specializing in the development of our application programming interface (API).
Degree: Computer science with a minor in business from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Location: New York City
What do you do?
As a software engineer at Updater, it is my job to deliver new features and maintain our existing platform, with the goals of: 1) making moving easier for users, and 2) providing helpful tools for real estate professionals to offer buyers and sellers.
I work closely with the sales and product teams to build plans and determine which features and tasks we should develop. Our team, “the tech team,” then discusses implementation details of the task at hand and, depending on how large the project is, we will individually (or in a small team) write the code for it.
How’d you end up in real estate tech?
I really just fell into it. A colleague of mine was also an engineer at Updater and invited me into the office to learn about the big problems this small tech company was working to solve. Having recently moved myself, it was easy to relate to Updater and understand that everyone who moves shares similar frustrations. I was interested in becoming part of the team right away.
What aspects of real estate are you trying to make better?
Updater is building solutions for two main problems. The first is that moving is a pain in the butt — we provide tools that ease the entire process, from simple mail forwarding to the complexities involved with transferring utility providers. The second is that real estate professionals never had a simple, turnkey moving solution to help their clients. It’s a no-brainer! Every client needs to move, so we’re filling that gap by providing them with their own, personalized version of Updater to offer clients.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
The team I work with on a daily basis. We are a small team, but we are nimble and able to move very quickly. We’re very collaborative in nature and always looking at the latest technologies to make our jobs easier. Being part of a small team has allowed me to be involved in almost every aspect of our system in one way or another, from building security features to integrating with third-party platforms like zipForm and dotloop.
What are you working on right now?
We recently completed a major overhaul of our code base to build a stronger foundation, resulting in the ability to build out features more quickly (and with less technical debt!). I think our biggest hurdle was having to move all of our existing users and real estate professionals from the previous platform to the new platform in a seamless way without interruption. With a lot of planning and testing, we were extremely successful.
Favorite Instagram accounts?
Thai red chicken curry.
Favorite video game?
Anything where you kill zombies!
Vancouver, but New York City is my favorite city for career opportunities — I have learned so much here in the last two years.
Who’s your favorite band or singer?
What do you hate about technology?
There is not much that I hate about technology, but it’s unfortunate how tech sometimes takes people away from experiencing the world around them. Too many people have their heads down in their phones, rather than going out for a hike or enjoying the scenery around them. In fact, I read recently that there was a “texting-only” walking lane on a sidewalk in China — I hope it was a prank article!
What is one thing you would like to fix about the real estate industry?
I want fantastic technology to be widely available within the real estate industry. Our work is actually cool, so our tech processes should be cool, too! With so many great tech companies in our space now, we’re making real estate the cool kid on the block.
Do you think technology can change the industry?
Of course! As we’ve seen across nearly every industry, technology streamlines processes and makes our lives easier — real estate is no different, and there’s a huge potential in our industry. We’ve only scratched the surface.
In or out of real estate, is there one problem, large or small, that you would like to solve?
I want to build tools that real estate professionals want to use. It seems that adoption of technology is an industrywide problem. Therefore, as technology providers, we all need to work together to make our clients want to use our technology. What that really means is that we need single sign-ons, we need easy access, we need accessible APIs, etc. We need connectivity. The results of this will be higher adoption rates across the board, stronger companies and partnerships, and happy clients.
What motivates you?
Helping build a successful company motivates me. At Updater, we’re all stakeholders and truly believe in what we are trying to accomplish as a team.
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